TCC science professors provide $140 lab kits to students for free


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Local community college professors are trying to help students continue to learn during the COVID-19 pandemic while lifting financial burdens for them.

On Thursday, faculty passed out free lab kits to summer course students for their biology classes.

“We were trying to save the students a little bit of money so the professors got the lab together and tasked me with putting the kits together,” said Nancy Jones, the lab science manager at TCC’s Portsmouth campus.

The in-person lab kit usually costs students $140, but with classes not being able to meet in-person and the financial pressure some of the students might face, professors decided to give out the kits for free.

“One of our big goals at community college is accessibility. We want to make sure they access education,” said Katrina Dash, who is an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Science at the school. “Anything we can do to make that easier is going to help our students and encourage them to continue their educational journey.”

Dash says they wanted to help in this way because obstacles like finances can sometimes halt students from learning.

“I know sometimes if our students face roadblocks, they can give up. We want to make sure we get rid of some of those roadblocks so our students can get a quality education,” she said.

The kits included seven different labs with items that might’ve been hard to come by if students had to purchase them on their own.

It’s another reason why Jones assembled the 90 packets for students.

“When we realized how difficult it was to go to the grocery stores and get the materials … we decided to put it together ourselves,” Dash said.

It’s their way of showing students that they matter and that they care about their education.

While it’s been difficult to teach lab science virtually, professor Siabhon Harris says she knows the students are grateful for what they’re doing.

“The students do see we care and that we are trying and trying to make their experience a real experience. I get the impression they’re appreciative online and through phone calls essentially because they have the opportunity to do this,” she said.

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